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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn » User review

Not the Perfect Story; but Certainly the Perfect Edition

  • Sep 16, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+5
Note: This review of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn references the second edition of "A Case Study in Critical Controversy" published by Bedford/St. Martin in 2004 (ISBN-10: 0-312-40029-2, ISBN-13: 978-0-312-40029-3).

I've always said if a book has been banned and I haven't read it, I must be doing something wrong. Luckily enough, I had read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn before, and for the life of me I couldn't remember what the big deal was (outside of the obvious) (I was in Junior High at the time, some 12 years ago). I was taking an English class for fun at the university I work for and this was the first text on the reading list. The theme of the class is "racism in American culture and American literature." The reason I mention this is not because of the content of the story The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn but rather the "bonus features," such as they are, that are included.

The "Case Studies in Critical Controversy" edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn includes the following (in addition to the original 1885 text):
  • A wonderful introduction about the importance of studying controversies;
  • A portfolio of the original illustrations included with the 1885 edition;
  • Twenty essays "representing major critical and cultural controversies surrounding the work" (from the back cover) over three subject matters: the controversy over the ending; the controversy over racism; and, the controversy over gender and sexuality. These essays include:
    • Lionel Trilling, "A Certain Formal Aptness";
    • T.S. Eliot, "The Boy and the River: Without Beginning or End";
    • Toni Morrison, "Jim's Africanist Presence in Huckleberry Finn" (New to this edition);
    • Jane Smiley, "Say It Ain't So, Huck: Second Thoughts on Mark Twain's "Masterpiece"";
    • Seymour Chwast, "Selling Huck Finn Down the River: A Response to Jane Smiley";
    • Leslie Fiedler, "Come back to the Raft Ag'in, Huck Honey!";
    • Christopher Looby, "'Innocent Homosexuality': The Fiedler Thesis in Retrospect"; and,
    • Several other essays, many of which have been reproduced in other editions of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

With this edition clocking in at 550 pages, nearly 60% of the text is additional material regarding controversy in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. As my instructor said on the first day, "Everyone has their own opinions; but, leave them at the door. All I want to hear are facts." This edition has plenty of well research and comprehensive information for all sides of each controversy. Many of the essays are linked, being responses to each other. I believe oftentimes we, as a culture, forget that sometimes the discussion about the controversy is more important than the actual controversy. Reading this text is an important educational lesson, and if parents, teachers, and school children read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in the context of this edition it certainly would not be banned and I think we would all be more proud of our children for the level of discourse and behavior when engaging in controversial debate.

Granted, this is the only edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn I have read (since I was 15 years old); but, I can't ever imagine myself recommending any other edition for any other reason.

Good reading,

Plants and Books
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More The Adventures of Huckleberry ... reviews
review by . November 16, 2010
   Not only is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn a brilliant and funny story of an adolescent boy, it is the story of an adolescent nation: the United States circa 1885. It raises broad, moral questions whose answers still elude us today, as it addresses the question of slavery in terms that are deeply personal, moral, political, social and economic.      Through Huck and the fugitive slave Jim, Twain looks at important issues of marginality, not just for people of …
Quick Tip by . April 12, 2011
One of Mark Twain's greatest books and an extremely enjoyable read. It is a very humorous and great adventure story.
review by . June 17, 2010
I return to this novel again and again. It’s a coming-of-age story, an adventure story, a comedy, a drama, a biting social commentary, and just a great read. The fact that it can be read and argued about more than a century after its publication proves its worth. Mark Twain creates an iconic character in Huck, an unlikely and often unwilling hero, whose journey takes him not only down the Mississippi River but also toward a growing awareness of the world. Much of the controversy over the …
Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
Another book everyone should read. It teaches a lesson about family, hard work. and friendship.
Quick Tip by . July 12, 2010
Excellent adventure story for any age. Huck Finn is quite the character. Lots of humor.
Quick Tip by . July 09, 2010
Of course, Twain (Clemens) is the quintessential American author. Whereas many who were born in America but still wrote from an English perspective, he developed an American style that was separate from any other influence.
Quick Tip by . July 03, 2010
such a classic! I enjoyed reading it
Quick Tip by . July 01, 2010
one of the great American Authors!
Quick Tip by . June 24, 2010
A great story of friendship and adventure. Brings back memories of a younger me.
Quick Tip by . June 24, 2010
could never get into this as much as it is hailed such a classic.
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Wiki

Like its popular predecessor, this critical edition is designed for "teaching the conflicts" surrounding Mark Twain’s classic novel. It reprints the 1885 text of the first American edition (with a portfolio of illustrations) along with critical essays representing major critical and cultural controversies surrounding the work. The novel and essays are supported by distinctive editorial material — including introductions to critical conflict in literary studies, to Twain’s life and work, and to each critical controversy highlighted in this edition — that helps students grapple not only with the novel’s critical issues but also with cultural debates about literature itself. In addition to several new critical essays, the second edition includes an appendix on how to argue about the novel so that students may more effectively enter the critical conversation about its issues.
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Details

ISBN-10: 0312400292
ISBN-13: 978-0312400293
Editor: Gerald Graff;, James Phelan
Author: Mark Twain
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
Format: Paperback
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